ADEQ protects, enhances and restores the natural environment for the well-being of all Arkansans. A 13-member commission provides oversight. The Governor appoints seven of members while six agencies are represented by their director or his/her designee, including the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC), ANRC, Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC) and the Arkansas Geology Commission (AGC). The Governor appoints the ADEQ Director, who directs 12 operating divisions. Three divisions are particularly related to the NPS Management Program: the Water Division and the Surface Mining and Reclamation Division.
Below is a partial list of ADEQ programs and responsibilities that directly and indirectly relate to the NPS Management Program.
- Holds responsibility for protecting the physical, chemical, biological and human health integrity of all state water bodies.
- Promulgates rules to implement state water quality standards
- Develops monitors and determines both long and short-term impacts of land use management practices on water quality standards for surface and ground water, and also develops waste load allocations.
- Maintains a network of ambient water quality monitoring stations, roving monitoring sites and a program for biological monitoring.
- Produces special studies and mandated reports, including the 303(d) inventory of impaired waters and the 305(b) water quality assessment report.
- Issues permits under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), including pretreatment, individual and storm water
- permits for water discharge of any sort within the state of Arkansas.
- Issues permits relating to "no-discharge" waste disposal systems (those that do not discharge directly to waters of the state) and saltwater disposal systems, including industrial septic tank systems, animal waste facilities such as hog farms and chicken operations with wet waste disposal systems
- Manages the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program
- Issues 401 Water Quality Certifications for any water project requiring a federal permit or license.
- Provides technical, administrative and professional assistance to citizens groups and state and federal agencies.
Sixteen district field office inspectors and two supervisors enforce compliance with permits described above, including:
- Conduct permit compliance evaluation inspections for NPDES facilities permitted for surface water discharges, primarily municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial discharges for process wastewater and for subsurface or no discharge facilities, including industrial septic tank systems, animal waste facilities such as hog farms and chicken operations with wet waste disposal systems and oil and gas related inspections that address deep well injection of brine from oil production
- Conduct storm water inspections which address storm water runoff from construction and industrial sites
- Investigate citizen complaints against municipalities, industries, other citizens or agricultural facilities
- Respond to spills of materials from industries, transportations and municipalities to assure protection of the environment
- Investigate fish kills related to environmental causes
- Collect routine water samples from a network of sampling stations to monitor ambient water quality of waters of Arkansas.
Regulate Surface Mining and Reclamation, which includes two programs:
- Non-Coal Program. Act 827 of 1991, as amended, deals with the reclamation of land affected by the mining of non-coal minerals, such as bauxite, clay, sand and gravel, using open cut mining methods. An amendment to the law passed in 1995 authorized the regulation of the practice of removing sand and gravel from the beds of streams within Arkansas. A 1999 amendment authorized the regulation of soil and shale pits with some exemptions based on the size of the pit and the distance from adjacent property lines. Regulation 15, the Arkansas Open Cut Mining and Land Reclamation, set performance standards that must be followed during mining and during the process of reclaiming land to a beneficial use. Act 1166 of 1997 provided a regulatory framework for the operation, reclamation and safe closure of new stone quarries and any land purchased or leased for a quarry.
- Coal Program. Active coal mines must comply with Rule 20, the Arkansas Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Code (ASCMRC). Active coal mining sites are inspected on a monthly basis for compliance.
The Arkansas Watershed Advisory Group (AWAG) is a consortium of state and federal agency personnel and private citizens that promotes local voluntary approaches to watershed management and conservation. AWAG provides technical assistance to organize watershed groups, facilitates quarterly discussion of voluntary approaches, and hosts an annual water quality conference. ADEQ provides staff support for AWAG. Project WET is a national water education program for educators and grades K-12 that promote awareness, appreciation, knowledge and stewardship of water resources through the development and dissemination of classroom ready teaching aids. AWAG coordinates the program in Arkansas.